Navigating the transition to leadership
Introspection and self-reflection can help you identify your current strengths and leadership style, but your current way of thinking about your job and yourself is exactly what is keeping you from stepping up, according to Herminia Ibarra in her book Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader. You will need to change your mind-set, and in order to do that you need to start by acting like a leader, and then learn how to think like a leader.
The three key elements of this transition to leadership, which the author describes as the outsight principle, becoming a leader from the outside in, are:
- Redefine your job, which involves shifting from driving results yourself to providing strategic direction for others
- Network across and out, which involves building professional relationships with key people outside your own functional group
- Be more playful with yourself, which involves changing your leadership style and how you see yourself and others see you, so that you become a good fit for your new leadership role
In my opinion this book is potentially very helpful for those who are navigating the very awkward transition from a position in which success requires personal technical competence to a position in which success requires co-ordinating and maximising the output produced by others. You can read books and attend classes on how to become a leader, but theoretical input does not really prepare you for the full force of the difficulties you will encounter. You have to start acting like a leader before you can truly become one.